CREDOS: Empowerment — II

In the rebirth of Pagan religions that look for God in the wonders of the natural world; in Zen and innumerable other threads of Buddhism, whose followers seek enlightenment through meditation and prayer, and in the efforts of American Muslims to achieve a more God-centred Islam. And, for that matter, at the Church of the Holy Communion, described by the Rev. Gary Jones as “a proper Episcopal church in one of the wealthiest parts of Memphis,” where increasingly “personal experience is at the heart of much of what we do.” Jones added a Sunday-evening service that has evolved into a blend of Celtic evensong with communion.

Whatever is going on here, it’s not an explosion of people going to church. The great public manifestations of religiosity in America today — mega-churches seating 8,000 worshipers at one service, the emergence of evangelical preachers as political power brokers — haven’t been reflected in increased attendance at services. Of 1,004 respondents to the Newsweek/ Beliefnet Poll, 45 per cent said they attend worship services weekly. Spirituality, the impulse to seek communion with the Divine, is thriving. The Newsweek/Beliefnet Poll found that more Americans, especially those younger than 60, described themselves as “spiritual” (79 per cent) than “religious” (64 per cent). Almost two thirds of Americans say they pray every day, and nearly a third meditate. —